Kingdom love bursting bubble of Dublin hype
Kerry haven't been given a hope against old foes Dublin but, as history has shown, that is when they have proven most dangerous
KERRY may pretend that they understand perfectly why they are outsiders for the All-Ireland title but nobody believes that Eamonn Fitzmaurice won't use it as a powerful motivational weapon for Sunday's semi-final clash with Dublin.
Despite their record as by far the most successful football county in the country, they find themselves 23/10 outsiders against Dublin (4/9), who have beaten them only once in their last 10 championship meetings.
Granted, that was in their most recent clash – the 2011 All-Ireland final – but even then there was a feeling that Kerry blew it after leading by four points in the 62nd minute.
As for the All-Ireland, Kerry are 5/1, well behind Dublin on 13/8 and Mayo at 4/5. The sight of Mayo, whose last All-Ireland win was 62 years ago, perched high above them will dismay Kerry, who will also be surprised that they are rated so far behind Dublin.
Kerry are the same price now as pre-championship, which means the markets have totally ignored their wins over Tipperary, Waterford, Cork and Cavan. Kerry have, in fact, drifted in the betting since winning the Munster title.
Mayo started the season at 11/1 for the All-Ireland, while Dublin were 5/2 and Kerry 5/1. Kerry have been happy to talk themselves down, with Fitzmaurice helpfully pointing to their second-half fade-out against Cork ("too close for comfort") and general inertia against Cavan ("there was a sloppiness to our game") as reasons for concern.
However, the view of Kerry was much the same going into the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final against Dublin when, then as now, the Kingdom was happy to indulge the perception that they were barely hanging on. Seven weeks later, they were All-Ireland champions, having beaten Dublin, Meath and Cork by a combined total of 25 points.
It certainly wasn't the first time that they had used the outsiders' tag to good effect against Dublin and, once back on track after the resounding quarter-final win, there was no stopping them.
Fitzmaurice and his Dublin counterpart Jim Gavin will be acutely aware that on occasions when Kerry arrive in Croke Park as outsiders, they are extremely dangerous, especially against Dublin. Indeed, on no fewer than five occasions since the late 1950s, Kerry have ripped up the script as presented by Dublin.
KERRY 1-24 DUBLIN 1-7
The Background: An eight-point defeat by Cork in the Munster semi-final replay, followed by laboured qualifier wins over Longford, Sligo and Antrim left Kerry as outsiders against a Dublin team had won the Leinster title for the fifth successive year. There were rumours of rifts and rows in the Kerry camp, all feeding into the perception of a Kingdom in decline.
The Game: Dublin suffered their biggest championship defeat by Kerry since 1978. They lost the first quarter by 1-6 to 0-1 and trailed by 1-14 to 0-3 at half-time. Kerry powered on to a 17-point win, which would have been much higher only for wayward shooting and some excellent saves by Stephen Cluxton. Colm Cooper, Darran and Declan O'Sullivan scored 1-13 between them. All three will be aboard again on Sunday.
"We were like startled earwigs for the first 15 minutes. There were so many changes we could have made because we were getting killed everywhere," said Dublin manager, Pat Gilroy.
"Once we heard (in the quarter-final draw) it was Dublin, everyone was a bit excited. If we couldn't tune ourselves in for this game, we might as well have hung up our boots," said Darran O'Sullivan.
The Aftermath: Kerry beat Meath and Cork to clinch their 36th All-Ireland title.
KERRY 0-14 DUBLIN 1-6
The Background: Dublin were reigning All-Ireland champions, whereas Kerry had lost the 1982 final to Offaly and the 1983 Munster final to Cork. Dublin were well-fancied for the double but Kerry took motivation from an unusual source – the 'RTE Guide'.
Not noted for cutting analysis of GAA affairs, the 'Guide' broke free from its fluffy world of TV puff pieces to describe Kerry as "a cowardly blend of experienced players, has-beens and newcomers."
Tom Spillane was described as a "glaring weakness who could expect a severe roasting from Tommy Conroy", while Ger Lynch was classed as "a nice footballer but a poor marker". He was, apparently, set for a miserable day against Ciaran Duff. Mick O'Dwyer milked the motivation cow for all it was worth.
"Describing a Kerry team as cowardly was like telling a Rottweiler he was an ugly mutt. I told the players that's what everyone outside of Kerry thought of them. It wasn't, of course, but why spoil such a juicy line with the truth?" he wrote.
The Game: Kerry all the way. They led by 0-7 to 0-3 at half-time and by six points when Barney Rock scored Dublin's goal. Kerry responded by stretching on again. Dublin's return of 1-6 was their lowest against Kerry since 1955, when games were played over 60 minutes.
The Aftermath: Kerry went on to complete another three-in-a-row in 1986.
KERRY 5-11 DUBLIN 0-9
The Background: Not only were Dublin bidding for an All-Ireland treble, they were also seeking the treble over Kerry, having beaten them in the 1976 final and the 1977 semi-final.
The Game: When Dublin led by five points after 20 minutes, it looked as if Kerry's case was tried but, incredibly, they won the rest of the game by 5-10 to 0-3. It was one of the most astonishing turnarounds in All-Ireland final history on a day the Kerry full-forward line of Mikey Sheehy (1-4), Eoin 'Bomber' Liston (3-2) and John Egan (1-2) scored 5-8 between them.
"I don't think anyone was in any doubt as they left Croke Park that evening that they had seen the end of one era (Dublin) and the beginning of another (Kerry)," said O'Dwyer.
The Aftermath: Kerry went on to win six of the next eight All-Ireland titles.
KERRY 2-12 DUBLIN 0-11
The Background: Dublin were reigning champions while Mick O'Dwyer was building with a young Kerry squad in his first season as manager. Dublin were hot favourites to out-gun the Kingdom.
"I knew we had the players but my one fear was that we were short of experience. Only John O'Keeffe and Brendan Lynch had played in senior All-Irelands. Still, I knew they all had great potential," said O'Dwyer.
The Game: Despite having captain Mickey Ned O'Sullivan knocked out in a collision with Sean Doherty, Kerry's young attack out-manoeuvred the Dublin defence. Goals by John Egan and Ger O'Driscoll helped Kerry to an easy win.
The Aftermath: Dublin beat Kerry over the next two years.
KERRY 1-10 DUBLIN 2-5
The Background: Dublin were reigning All-Ireland champions while Kerry had previously won the title in 1955, beating Dublin in the final.
The Game: Watched by 70,148, Kerry, inspired by Mick O'Connell, led by four points at half-time and were eight points up entering the final quarter before Dublin rallied, cutting the deficit to two points. Remarkably, Dublin hit the woodwork four times in 10 minutes in the first half.
The Aftermath: Kerry won the All-Ireland, while Dublin's next success was in 1963.